You may also like...

80 Responses

  1. Ricky Bobby says:

    Michael, you can fix that right quick, here’s how: Beat him, abuse him, humiliate him, etc. He’ll overcome that “weakness” and get that killer instinct…I know, from experience.

  2. Ricky Bobby says:

    …the sad and tough part is, once that “buddy instinct” has been ripped out of a person…it’s hard to get it back.

  3. Michael says:


    Those two comments are truth…and formed part of the thinking behind this article.

  4. Neo says:

    Already lots of “everyone’s a winner” trophies handed out to kids who gave a half assed effort all season long. So we’ve got that part covered.

  5. Kevin H says:

    Having a killer instinct in sports can often be a good thing. Having it in many other areas of life can often be the reverse.

    Michael Jordan had an extreme killer instinct on the court and it served him well to become arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Unfortunately, by many accounts, he is a jerk in real life, with that killer instinct and associated arrogance a likely contributor to his off the court demeanor.

    David Robinson was also an all-time great basketball player, but not quite to the level of Jordan. He was regularly criticized for being too nice and lacking a killer instinct. If he had more of an edge, maybe he would now be considered in the same group as Jordan, Chamberlain, Russell, etc. Also by many accounts, he is well respected for the life he carries off the court.

    Somebody who can train that killer instinct on that playing court/field/etc. and yet keep it under control in other areas of life may have the best of both worlds. Easier said than done.

  6. Michael says:


    There are kids who even when they give their all will not become good athletes.
    Should we make sure that they understand that they are “losers” or commend them for being involved at all?

  7. Kevin H says:

    By the way, I haven’t had much time to read the past few days, but I have really enjoyed reading what I have been able to of the Holiness threads.

  8. Michael says:


    Very well said.
    Our culture thrives in every area on the concept of winners and losers…and aggressively taking out the opposition.
    It looks ugly in the church…

  9. Michael says:


    I was surprised by the interest in those threads…happily so.

  10. Neo says:

    Character is forged in learning how to win and how to lose well. Commitment, discipline, and yes, learning one’s place in the pecking order of a roster or dojo is all helpful to learning skill in the game of life. If that is not helpful or it’s detrimental to a child, they should look at doing something else that doesn’t involve competition. I think competition, both the winning and the losing is all part of growing up and learning.

  11. Michael says:

    That is certainly the American way.
    It’s not very biblical, however.
    There is something to be said for the sheer joy of participation…

  12. Xenia says:

    Recently I was doing some reading about the waning of the medieval guild system, which was based on mutual support and cooperation. Your fellow baker was not your enemy, someone you’d try to undercut. Your workers were your family members and maybe an apprentice. The shop owner was expected to care for everyone in his household/shop and was expected to cooperate with the rest of his guild members in setting prices, buying raw material, etc. If he didn’t treat his workers well or made a shoddy product, he was censured by the guild. Everyone’s prosperity was the goal. The writings of the day associate this type of cooperation as normal for the Christian life. (So you can see that there is an ancient connection between the employer and health care, such as it was in those days.)

    This gave way to what eventually became capitalism, where competition and making a killing became the norm. No longer was the shop based in someone’s home, no longer were the workers family members but instead, a wealthy man filled up a large building (the forerunner of the factory) with many work stations and hired employees, people he had no moral obligation (in his mind) to treat as family members. Competition, not cooperation, was the game.

    I have noticed that even today some cultures are more cooperative than others. A friend researched this among Mexican school children for her PhD thesis. She observed that Mexican kids would all work together on a school project, crossing the line into what we might call cheating, so that everyone got a good grade. Personally, I think this kind of attitude produces more Salieri’s than Mozarts, but who knows.

    This ethos of cooperation vs competition is interesting. The argument would be that today in America, if you don’t compete you are going to be squashed. Ruthless competition is hard to square with the teachings of Jesus, though. I do know that when my kids were invited to play “non-competitive” games they were bored out of their socks and couldn’t wait for the nice mommy to go home so they could play football.

  13. Michael,

    Got a moment to pop in, excellent writing again.

    “There are kids who even when they give their all will not become good athletes.
    Should we make sure that they understand that they are “losers” or commend them for being involved at all?”

    Find a better sport. Frame his expectations for now but extract him into a better sport with a better coach and let Trey be true to his nature.

    As a swimmer and a runner I never had to hurt an opponent to win, I simply had to have a level of personal best which was better than my competition. Once my coaches realized I was in the wrong sports they encouraged me accordingly.

    Same goes for the performing arts, to do excellent art, writing, composition, and performing. Find mentors who want to build, not destroy others, even for a match or round.

    A person who consistently demonstrates “the buddy instinct” is a nurturer, a caregiver, an organizer, one who helps, one who heals.

    The world is full of ego driven men who want of ego unleash all kinds of hell on the world. We elect these asshats who ultimately want to swagger and war until every so often a contrast is demonstrated by the holy act of being a buddy.

    If Trey ever becomes Pope I envision him phoning a distraught woman like this guy has done…

  14. Just saw Xenia’s excellent post about how a guild works. That is the model to follow. Forget the warrior class.

  15. Michael says:


    Much to think about in your comment.
    I think a balance must be struck…between doing your absolute best and remaining a compassionate person.
    Capitalism at it’s best was when small businesses were it’s backbone and the small business owner had a familial bent toward his employees.
    I’ve been in corporate America for a long time…and seen the most ambitious, competitive, and cutthroat rise to the top many times.
    They weren’t the most gifted or talented…they were the most ruthless.
    I think we see the results of that…

  16. Michael says:


    I had this epiphany last night in the wee hours of the morning.
    There has been a tug of war over where T would spend his time…at the dojo or the skatepark.
    He much, much prefers the skatepark.
    It dawned on me that he loves to compete against his own work… and he loves the collegiality of his fellow skaters.
    If he is to be a great tae kwan do athlete we must change his basic nature…and I’m thinking that just might be sin.

  17. Xenia says:

    You can see remnants of the guild system in the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association.

  18. Xenia says:

    You can make comparisons with some modern churches. There are churches that are great big buildings managed by rich, powerful men with lots of “work stations” manned by poorly paid employees and are putting out a product that is in competition with other factory churches.

  19. Michael says:


    Yes…and they are both territorial and cutthroat toward the competition…the product is backsides in the seats.

  20. Nonnie says:

    My son played high school and college basketball. It was good for him. Although they were a championship team, his coach loved Jesus and those boys more than he enjoyed winning. He taught them discipline, helped them to develop good character and to respect the boys they were competing against. Above all he modelled a man of integrity who loved the Lord. For my son, playing basketball under that coach was good for his soul and the game was good for releasing a lot of that testosterone and making his body strong. I am very thankful for the experience he had. The game paid his way through college too. He graduated debt free.


  21. Jim says:

    I’m thankful that God did not use a cookie cutter when we were wonderfully made. Some kids are athletic and some not. Some really good athletes have killer instincts, and some really good athletes do not. I think Trey’s blessed to have a wise dad.

  22. Michael,
    “If he is to be a great tae kwan do athlete we must change his basic nature…and I’m thinking that just might be sin.”

    Classic round peg, square hole.
    Now, if Trey wants to be a tae kwan do athlete he will at some point have to learn to injure someone, break their will through physical pain, then inflict enough that he wins fairly before the clock runs out. The greatest percentage of the discipline is the greatest value. The mental conditioning to achieve personal best is far greater than any value of strategic pain infliction, unless you’re in direct combat or a sniper.

    So, it comes down to what kind of person you and he want him to be.

    I listened to an interview of a designer who chose NOT to be a neurosurgeon even though she had top grades in her med studies. She said she chose design because she would have become the wrong person, purposefully isolated from individuals because of needing a professional distance. Design allows her to thrive in her people & culture connections.

    Better that Trey be “that guy” that all the skater kids want to see arrive and hate to see leave, the guy who cheers the others on.

    You and Trey know best but I’m thinking he’s going to show you by choosing to spend more time skating.

    If you both leave tae kwan do just tell the coach his buddies needed him

  23. London says:

    We need more Treys in the world!

  24. Michael says:


    He considers martial arts an interruption of his skating time.
    The other side of the coin is that the physical and co-ordination demands of martial arts are helping him create new brain pathways that ameliorate other issues and open new possibilities.
    i’m going to let him decide…while protecting that largeness of heart.

  25. London says:

    Maybe if he sees how the karate helps his skating balance etc. he’ll like it more.

  26. Michael says:


    He thinks I’m blowing smoke when I tell him that… 🙂

  27. jamesk says:

    My oldest son was able to have the best of both worlds. When he was on the basketball court, if you had on a different color uniform, expect to be boxed out and posted up, very hard. I saw him put one kid into the wall just with a hard hip box out. Off the court, he is a very mild mannered and caring person. He has friends that have turned to drugs, and his heart aches for them. He always makes sure to let them know that he loves them.

    Am I proud, yes, but I am blessed even more.

  28. Neo says:

    I think Jesus would enjoy a good game at a sports bar or at the stadium; maybe watching the kid’s little league game. But I could be wrong. I know Paul certainly would have. Anyway, I get weary of Christians crushing anything that brings joy to people due to one reason or another…, drink, music, clothing, makeup, pool tables, cigars, and now sports. The list goes on and on and on…

  29. You nailed it, Michael. There must be a balance. Education is becoming cutthroat too. When a school district has an “underperforming” school, the state hammers the district admin., who in turn comes down hard on the school admin., who then lowers the boom on the teachers. Teachers yearly evaluations now, by law, include the scores from the mandated state testing. The kids feel the stress, and school has become a fierce battle to get scores up. It’s sickening.

  30. Neo says:

    Go Ducks! Lol.

  31. Neo says:

    “School has become a fierce battle to get scores up”. This can’t always be a bad thing. When I was growing up, all we ever heard was how crap the education system was in the US and the Soviets, then the Japanese, now the Chinese are running laps around our students. As my kids might say, “Whatev”.

  32. Neo, I don’t think anyone here is crushing sports or anything else. Just trying to hash out pros and cons, a biblical perspective when applicable, and how to train young people to be successful in diverse realms of life.

  33. I sure am glad that we got off that holiness kick and are back to physical beat downs. 😉

  34. Michael says:


    It never ceases to amaze me what people get out of an article.
    I coached sports for years.
    I am a rabid fan of the Minnesota Vikings and the L.A. Kings.
    I’m in three fantasy football leagues.
    My kid is involved in sports every day of his life and has been since the age of six.
    In case you’re new here, I’m also fond of food and drink, and music with a strong left hand on the bass keys.

  35. Michael says:


    I’ve watched that same process here…and it flat sucks.
    The teachers and the kids pay for it, too.

  36. The reason they run laps around us is because they segregate students into schools based upon early aptitude tests. So when we compare our reading and math scores with theirs, it’s apples and oranges. We look at our whole student population and compare that to only those students who have an academic bent and are sent to those schools where that is emphasized. We never hear about the industrial schools.

    Who has a better team, the Yankees, the Bulls, the Coyotes, or the Derby Dames? It’s a ridiculous comparison.

  37. Michael says:


    You should be proud…you did well.

  38. Neo says:

    I’m sorry for taking the article out of context.

  39. Neo says:

    “It never ceases to amaze me what people get out of an article”.

    The Lord can sympathize with that one.

  40. paigemom2013 says:

    Michael, you’ve expressed concerns about this teacher before and his hard @ssed approach….. Perhaps Trey will ‘out grow’ this studio eventually and he can switch over to Chip Wrights! Meanwhile, time for a Buddy Medal!

  41. Xenia says:

    We need to study our kids and determine their natural inclinations, which may be what “raise up your children in the way they should go” actually means.

  42. Steve Wright says:

    I think this so-called “killer instinct” is dramatically different in the very few sports that involve physically beating on an opponent – and all the other sports that don’t.

    Apples and oranges.

  43. Lutheran says:

    ‘Everyone’s prosperity was the goal. The writings of the day associate this type of cooperation as normal for the Christian life.”

    Too bad today’s secular Righties would pretty much equate that in the economic realm at least, with communism or even worse, socialism. 🙂

    There are still plenty of church groups that practice the cooperative model. Many have mutual aid societies and so forth. The Mennonites, Amish and others, including Lutherans. But as rapacious capitalism has become more powerful, these are getting harder to find.

    The church should not copy the world’s ways when it comes to economics. That’s not the way of Jesus, IMHO.

  44. I don’t know, Steve. Perhaps Granny Smith and Fuji. Although physically beating an opponent is not part of basketball or hockey, there is still an advantage to aggressiveness.

  45. Jamesk, you have been blessed indeed! Thanks for sharing about your son.

  46. Steve Wright says:

    Aggressiveness is different in my opinion. There are multiple ways to be seen as “aggressive” in almost every sport. Even golfers are described that way. Pitchers, batters, base runners all are given the label in my old sport.

    I’m not saying there is not a physical aspect to many sports. But very few sports ask you to keep beating on someone once they are hurting in order to knock them out and show “killer instinct”

    Has anyone in hockey had a killer instinct more than Gretzky? In hoops more than Larry Bird or Magic? Those guys weren’t especially physcial – they certainly weren’t goons or throwing elbows.

  47. Michael says:

    Well, I can speak to the Gretzky example…he was intentionally paired with linemates and defensemen whose job it was to keep people off him.
    The greatest of forward of all, Gordie Howe…was also the strongest, nastiest SOB on skates.

  48. Michael says:

    Great…now I have hockey on the brain. 🙂
    Greatest killer instinct in hockey…Maurice (the Rocket) Richard.
    Greatest ovation in history when they retired his number…

  49. Steve Wright says:

    Yeah, and Isiah Thomas had Bill Lambeer….Magic had Rambis.

    Heck, a QB is surrounded by guys who do nothing but hit on the other guys.

    Once more, not talking about the dynamics of a given team sport, and the use of role players. It’s about the goal of the sport to beat on somebody long enough and hard enough so that you are declared the winner. Most sports are not designed that way.

    I pitched and pitched well. I would buzz you inside. I threw hard. I was “aggressive” by any definition that applies to a pitcher. I certainly would be described with a killer instinct if I got ahead of you in the count.

    And I felt absolutely terrible if I hurt somebody by hitting them with one of my pitches. And it happened from time to time.

    At the same time, given the nature of the game, I would deliberately hit a batter if they had first tried to hurt one of my teammates – like sliding cleats high into the face or something.

  50. Michael says:

    It was the last game at the Forum actually…

  51. brian says:

    I have that buddy want to help non killer instinct. For most of my Christian life I loathed that part of myself, it made me sick and I felt I was a pathetic piece of human filth and a waist of air as one fellow christian pointed out to me. Being vicious without coming off as being vicious was probably the most sought after skill. Having had the experience RB spoke of as a child I went the other way I became more sensitive to broken people, I could not even get that right. I should have been able to lay someone out either physically or emotionally the second I felt crossed. I always looked for the good in opponents. This really just plane ticked off many of the brothers.

    Now that I see all that was crap, I am beginning to even think God actually loves me, most of the time I think He just tolerates me. That is a big deal, I no longer think God hates me with a divine passion from the foundations of the universe.

  52. Ricky Bobby says:

    I had that “buddy instinct” in spades when I was a kid. I was always trying to calm things down and make peace in the home.

    I think some are born with that tendency, some are born with the killer instinct.

    I think the killer instinct can be taught and learned and that some with the buddy instinct can be made to have the killer instinct…but I think it’s much harder for someone born with killer instinct to get the buddy instinct, IMO.

  53. Jean says:

    I had a son in karate just like that at the age of 7 or 8. He was a shocked during his first sparring experience when the other kid punched or kicked him in the chest. He’s age 24 now and we (alright I) still laugh about it. There are lovers and there are fighters. He’s not a fighter; I hope his a lover.

  54. jlo says:

    Trey’s the man.

  55. I know it’s not time for Open Blogging yet. But I won’t be around much tomorrow, and I just got a kick out of this,

  56. brian says:

    There is another instinct the survival at any costs instinct, the ability to lie to people’s faces with out batting an eyelash and smile while sinking the knife deep to the bone and twisting it and not braking a sweat. That instinct is often rewarded.

  57. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
    There is more than one way to be a winner other than striking your opponent when they are down to finish them off. They might win the match but at what cost over the long run.

    Michael will there be more discussion on Holiness?

  58. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    I played football at a high level and on my first team in semi pro I was encouraged to hurt and to hate my opponent. On my second team I learned a valuable lesson, keep the play between the whistles. I had a junkyard dog mean streak on the field but off I was quiet in the locker room. I had much more fun when I lightened up and realized its just competition and not life or death. My level of play didn’t suffer at all. In between plays I would joke with my opponent instead of jaw at them. Hurting your opponent is overrated. I always wanted the others teams best player to be healthy so that we can say we beat them at their best. Even John Madden said that if you have to work yourself up to hate your opponent then you don’t belong playing football. Just trying to win the battle in front of me was motivation enuff. When I took my son to try out for the Montebello Indians flag football team the young ex marine coach talked about making our kids cry and I knew right then this guy didn’t know jack about football. That type of mentality is archaic and outdated and doesn’t work. Bear Bryant ran the brutal camp in Texas and demoralized about a hundred young men. In the NFL Its tough but the coaches for the part try to treat their players with a level of respect and not trying to be these tuff guys. I was in Muay Thai kickboxing for two years and was then offered to fight some smokers at age 33. The coach saw potential in me but I knew I didn’t have the mentality that a fighter needs to have. A fighter must not have regard for his own well being and sorry but the idea of a broken jaw or nose doesn’t appeal to me. Good for your son. Maybe swimming, baseball or soccer even football would be good. Enuff meatheads out there as it is.

  59. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Now my son on the other hand coulda did real good In Muay Thai as the coach told me that he has amzing heart. During his first sparring match he got kicked in the throat but pissed and crying got right back up and battled the kid. Other kid win that match but my son beat him in the rematch as the other kid had better skills but didn’t have the heart my son had. I told my son anyone can dish it out but what makes you tough is the ability to take it. My son drilled the kid the next time out with a close the distance strategy and the kid couldn’t handle it and was crying as he was used to dominating everyone.

  60. Muff Potter says:

    You have a beautiful boy in Trey. It is my fervent hope that he adopts and lives by your values, and the voice of the Almighty in his conscience.

  61. Michael says:

    Thank you, Muff.
    I hope he far exceeds me in all things…

  62. Ricky Bobby says:

    SolRod said, “but didn’t have the heart my son had. I told my son anyone can dish it out but what makes you tough is the ability to take it. but didn’t have the heart my son had. I told my son anyone can dish it out but what makes you tough is the ability to take it. ”

    Yep. You can overcome another’s ability with sheer persistence and mental toughness. Grinders can wear down a stronger more technically superior opponent. You can’t lose if you never give up.

  63. This might be my favorite TGIF ever… but I can’t remember enough to be sure.

  64. Michael says:


    This was a tough one…for I am a “bloody man”.
    My gut instinct has been to hone his aggression, to help him sense what has always been second nature to me.
    Then I realized that he is modeling how he has been raised…not how I was.
    He will not be like me…and that is a good thing.

  65. That comment makes the posting even more valuable Michael. I bid you to remember the sensitive soul of the man of blood in scripture. We cannot sing or sigh without his help today.

  66. Michael says:


    This boy…is my song.

  67. PP Vet says:

    I have never seen more genuine affection and respect in sports than between two boxers who had just spent 12 rounds trying to kill each other, hugging each other at the end of the match.

    That is the killer instinct at its finest.

  68. PP Vet says:

    The killer instinct is not about hurting.

    It is about “leaving it all on the field” – that is, when you walk off the field at the end of the game, you have nothing left, because everything you had to give, you gave.

    I hope in my life to leave it all on the field.

    It could also be called, looking at it from another perspective, a passion for excellence.

    Whatever you do, do your best. It is a totally scriptural concept.

  69. Uriahisaliveandwell says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand where in the Bible it tells us that it is okay to beat a person brain in or to participate in anything that would harm another, except when one needs to defend themselves, their family, or their country. I love sports just as much as the next person, but as for boxing, I turn it off—I simply cannot stand by and vicariously participate in something that I believe is more or something contrived by the world than that which honors the Lord.

    As for football, love watching the game except for knowing that it is the number one sport associated with spousal abuse which often include the children. As a matter of stats, Superbowl Sunday is the day that has consistently been the most frequent numbers of spouses beaten beaten and killed. I think the combination of alcohol/drug, agression, and gambling has much to do with it. By the way, those who gamble have the highest rates of suicide, divorce, spousal abuse, and sexual addiction rates.

    Now,is it possible to watch football and to have a good time without using and abusing others. Sure it is—what more, the family has a good time as well. Just stating the facts, people—if the football players are required to abstain and not gamble on the game, then why would it be necessary for a observer to do any differently. I can hear the hissing and booes as I sign off.

  70. brian says:

    I seem to always root for the underdog, I know that makes me a pathetic evil, vile filthy unregenerate soul, if I even have one of those, yes I doubt on a regular basis if I have a soul. A gift from my evangelical past. There is one thing I understand almost instinctively is that God hates me, He created me from the foundations of the universe to suffer eternal torment. If God killed me and mine right here and now that would be grace I get that. I get God can do what He wills, if He wipes out the vast majority of humanity no matter how much they beg on the day of judgement they will be sent into eternal torture with God’s blessing.

    I get the point God hates us because we are not perfect, our cells do not divide perfectly we struggle with genetic deficiencies thus a Holy God loathes these imperfections. God wants perfection nothing less, and if we fail there is wrath with eternal vengeance. I mean if even one cell division is not perfect that person should be sent to hell for all eternity because they are an affront to a holy God. I will admit it was rather profound considering ones self as an eternal enemy of God. I often pray God please dont kill me but if it is your will to kill me please let it be so others may life. I agree such a prayer is completely pathetic and that is being nice. I dont get the whole dying for my sins aspect, we should always overcome on our own and not need any help, ever no matter what. That I got in spades.

  71. Why am I envisioning Trey coming up to brian, handing him a spare skateboard and a chilled water from the Newnham ice chest and saying, “Hey buddy, c’mon, don’t be so hard on yourself, let me show you how to skate!” ?

  72. No one here today? Oh! Oh – just us amillennialists left behind?

  73. uriahisaliveandwell says:

    How funny, MLD

    Brian, it’s guys like you and T that touch my heart and reminds me of my own fraility and needs for a cool cup of water in the midst of the desert that seems to be hopeless at times. Just wanted you to know.

    Michael, you are more appreciated than you will ever know, no matter how much we may or may not agree with one another. Hope my comment does not get censored as I really would like what I have to say shared.

    Please Note: This was recently drawn to my attention which I appreciate regarding Super Bowl Sunday and Domestic Violence. What appears to be a myth, however, is only partly true. As the result indicated that the reason given had to do with a person’s team losing

    Just wanted to post this, so that people wouldn’t think I was misleading them and I have become recently aware of this link to Snope on this topic. To look up yourself, see Super Bowl, Crime, Domestic Violence.

  74. Michael says:


    Trey and I would be more than happy to do so…Brian would even get some of my stash of Mexican Coke…and Trey hugs everyone as well.
    Don’t try it with me, however…

  75. uriahisaliveandwell says:


    “Please Note: This was recently drawn to my attention which I appreciate regarding Super Bowl Sunday and Domestic Violence. What appears to be a myth, however, is only partly true. As the result indicated that the reason given had to do with a person’s team losing” when in fact, there was a significant rise in DV when a person’s team was winning instead.

  76. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Football players can’t gamble because it affects the integrity of the game. That is not really an issue when a fan bets on a game. I don’t like gambling but it should be allowed. At the end of the day everyone is responsible for their own choices. I for one am not gonna blame the sport for domestic violence, that’s ridiculous. Maybe people should take personal responsibility

  77. uriahisaliveandwell says:


    I agree, if people would take personal responsibility, there would be less domestic violence. Yet those cases that I am aware the offender will cite the reason they victimized another was due some factor having to due with the game. Oh, and that they were drinking too.

  78. DavidH says:

    Late to the article.

    I’d rather my son have the “buddy instinct,” which he does have.

    As we watch kids grow up learning that killing (via video games, etc.) is harmless fun, I get scared for our society. I mean scared.

    Michael, that was a great article.

  79. Michael says:

    David H,

    Thank you much, sir!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Phoenix Preacher

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading